Motorhome Magazine Open Roads Forum: Alaska Trip 2017' - Larson's Epic Adventure TR - (Part 1)
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 > Alaska Trip 2017' - Larson's Epic Adventure TR - (Part 1)

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GpnAZ

Phoenix

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Posted: 09/12/17 08:24pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We planned for a year our 3 month adventure from Phoenix, Arizona to Alaska and back. My wife Sue did 99% of the planning with the help of the internet and Milepost. Sue made a comprehensive spreadsheet of all our stops, POI's, reservations, mileage and ETA! She also made a PDF map of every town and what date we would be there. It was everything we expected and more, a trip we will always fondly remember! Even though there was a few small mishaps along the ways, it went surprisingly smooth, no major delays or sicknesses.We never took our camper off the truck and we were rarely at a campground except at night to sleep, shower or do laundry. It was just too convenient to always have our camper with us for eating, napping and restroom use! I love to drive and probably drove 90% of the 11,650 miles we traveled back and forth to Alaska. I never had a problem finding diesel fuel or DEF fluid for the entire trip. I'm going to write this in 3 parts, covering a month in each part, otherwise it might cause you to go to sleep halfway through! Pictures without my name in the lower left hand corner are pictures taken by my Samsung 8+ phone or GoPro Hero 5. Pictures with Mark Larson in the lower left hand corner are pictures taken by one of my Sony digital cameras, A99II, A7R or RX100III.

We started our journey on May 26, leaving Phoenix around 7:30 pm and arriving in Flagstaff around 10:30 pm, we topped off our diesel and DEF fluid and decided to catch some sleep in the truck stop parking lot. We were up early the next morning and headed for Moab Utah, stopping along the way for lunch at Twin Rocks Cafe in Bluff Utah.

Twin Rocks Trading Post, Bluff Utah
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We arrive in Moab and check into our campground right in town. We pick a spot for dinner tonight and breakfast in the morning. We like to eat out and check out the local cuisines, although I'm pretty familiar with Moab eateries! We head to Salt Lake City the next morning, stopping along the way to photograph some of the small town churches, one of my photographic projects, see www.flickr.com/photos/his_cross. The next morning we are headed to Colter Bay, Grand Tetons NP, we have a date to meet our friend Bryan (BKA) and catch up and maybe do a little photography with Bryan. We stop in Lava Hot Springs for lunch and photograph Soda Springs.

Soda Springs in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
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We have dinner with Bryan at Signal Mountain Lodge and decide to get up early to photograph sunrise at Ox Bow Bend. Bryan knows the National Park and photography, makes it fun to talk about his experiences at the NP and his adventures! Afterwards we eat breakfast at Jackson Lodge, what a beautiful hotel in a beautiful setting! We say our goodbyes and head to Canyon Village in Yellowstone NP.

Ox Bow Bend, Grand Teton NP
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Willow Flats, Grand Teton NP
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Bryan and Sue at the view window at Jackson Lake Lodge
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Yellowstone River along the Grand Loop Road, Yellowstone NP
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Our campsite in Canyon Village, Yellowstone NP
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We stayed a couple days in Yellowstone visiting Artist Point, Norris Geyser Basin, Grand Prismatic Spring, Mammoth Hot Spring, Old Faithful and driving both upper and lower Grand Loop Road.

Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone NP
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Mud Caldron Loop, Yellowstone NP
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Mount Washburn area, upper Grand Loop Road
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Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone NP
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Lower Yellowstone Falls viewed from Artist Point, Yellowstone NP
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Lower Yellowstone Falls viewed from Artist Point, Yellowstone NP
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Waterfalls by parking lot at Artist Point
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Fisherman and Buffalo sharing the Gibbon Meadows area, Yellowstone NP
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Buffalo along the highway to Yellowstone NP
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Buffalo at Gibbon Meadows, Yellowstone NP
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Sue at Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone NP
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Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone NP
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We also got to eat dinner at the Yellowstone Lake Hotel and Old Faithful Lodge, great places to eat! Next destination is West Glacier Village, stopping along the way to photograph some old churches, pick up groceries and fill with fuel. Our camp was at Two Medicine Campground overlooking Pray Lake with the mountains in the background, just beautiful!!

Two Medicine Campground from our truck camper dinette seat, Glacier NP
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Sunrise at Pray Lake and golden light on the mountains, Glacier NP
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Sunset from our truck camper cabover window
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I was up early to photograph early light, see picture above, then we headed into East Glacier Village for breakfast and then over to West Glacier where we drive to "Going to the Sun Road", which is closed at Avalanche Creek area and no parking available because of all the traffic. We drive back to Lake McDonald Lodge where we park and take the shuttle to Avalanche Trailhead where we can hike to Avalanche Lake. We get back to the trailhead in time to catch the last shuttle back to Lake McDonald.

Sue on the Avalanche trail, Glacier NP
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Avalanche Lake, Glacier NP
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We drive to our campground just outside West Glacier, after settling in we end up talking to our neighbors who are from Germany and traveling in a rented truck camper from Canada.

Entering the USA to Canadian border station
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The next morning we head for the Canadian border on hwy 93 getting to the border about noon time. Everything was going smooth until they got to the paperwork on my shotgun I was bringing along and doing a background check they found a citation I had gotten into trouble with 35 years ago, after pulling me into a private office and me explaining what happened they were satisfied and let us through, needless to say my wife had a few questions after that! They did explain to me that my shotgun would have to have the chamber locked and the ammo in a different compartment from the gun. They told me it was fine to unlock it once we got to Alaska but not in Canada. We got on our way and drove to Radium Hot Springs to our campsite right next to the creek. The next day we drove to Kootenay NP where we hiked on a trail to Cobb Lake. On our hike back we heard some rustling in the brush not too far from us and hurried up the trail, back to our TC. We had tested our bear spray before starting our hike and were immediately shown how to move quickly away from it after you spray it!

Sue at Cobb Lake, Kootenay NP
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We drove to the hot springs after that and soaked for about an hour and then back to camp. The next day we drove back through Kootenay NP and seeing a grizzly bear and a black bear within a couple hundred yards from the trailhead we were at yesterday, we were thinking, boy if we had seen that yesterday we would have never hiked that trail! It was a beautiful drive through Kootenay NP and Banff NP on our way to Lake Louise!

Sue and Peanut - Picnic area on Hwy 93, Kootenay NP
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Kootenay River, Kootenay NP
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Truck camper at Kootenay NP and Banff NP boundary
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Once again there was no parking to be had at Lake Louise so we decided to go ride the gondola at Lake Louise Ski Resort, nice views at the top of the mountain, but didn't see any wildlife.

We drove back to Lake Louise and found a parking spot, checked out the Lake and had a early dinner at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, good food! Drove to our campground by Lake Louise and settled in for the night. The next day we went back to Lake Louise to take some photos and hike up to Lake Agnes Tea House, Sue and Peanut went ahead of me and I caught up about a hour later. There was a lot of snow on the trail for about the last 3/4 of a mile.

Lake Louise, Banff NP
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Lake Agnes, Banff NP
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After that we drove to Moraine Lake to take a few photos, just beautiful and not as much ice on the lake as there was at Lake Agnes.

Sue and Peanut at Moraine Lake, Banff NP
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The next day we drove to Banff by way of Bow Valley Parkway, we saw a black bear and a group of long horn sheep, another beautiful drive.

Long horn sheep next to Bow Valley Parkway, Banff NP
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Truck camper on Bow Valley Parkway, Banff NP
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On the way back to Lake Louise we saw caribou and deer along the parkway.The next day we headed toward Jasper through the Icelands Parkway, it was raining on and off, but we managed to stop a few times to take some photos.

Bow Lake along the Icefields Parkway, Jasper NP
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Panoramic of Bow Lake, Jasper NP
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Vista view on the Icefields Parkway, Jasper NP
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We stayed at the KOA by Hinton and caught up on our laundry. The next day we drive to Grand Prairie for the night and I was able to wash the truck and camper at the truck wash. The next day we are on the road to Fort Nelson, stopping in Dawson Creek to take a picture of us and camper at the sign commemorating mile 0 of the AlCan Highway, it was actually pretty cool to us to be officially on the AlCan Hwy!

Mile 0 sign for the Alaska Highway, Dawson Creek, BC
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We checked into our campground in Fort Nelson and walked over to the museum next door, what a treasure trove of stuff, we really enjoyed walking through all the different areas! We talked to the guy that started collecting all of it back in the 1950's, he was quite the character, Marl Thomas. We walked back to the campground and had dinner at their cafe, good food and nice people!

Sue and Marl Thomas talking about his collection, Fort Nelson Museum, BC
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Collection of outboard motors and old scooter, Fort Nelson Museum, BC
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Sue in front of old cabin at Fort Nelson Museum, BC
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Old Flextrack that could probably go anywhere in it's day, Fort Nelson Museum, BC
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We headed towards Toad River, BC the next morning, stopping along the way to see 7 - black bears, 1 - brown bear, 2 - caribou and 3 different groups of mountain goats, pretty good wildlife viewing for us! We got to our campground in Toad River and we found a beaver busy working away on his house.

Brown bear on the side of the road, Hwy 97, BC
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One busy beaver, Toad River, BC
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Beaver house next to our campsite, Toad River, BC
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View from our campsite at Toad River Campground, BC
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We headed for Watson Lake, BC the next morning. There was a lot of rough road, no asphalt in places for miles and lots of dust. We got to Watson Lake and visited the Sign Post Forest and then the Northern Lights Centre, both worth visiting!

Sue and Peanut at the Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake, BC
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Truck and camper in front of Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake, BC
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The next day we headed towards Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, lots of RV's on the highway and lots of construction and unpaved sections of road! We checked into our campground and headed into Whitehorse to check it out. We toured the old paddlewheeler, SS Klondike, pretty neat and then had dinner at Klondike Rib & Salmon, great food!

Sue at the SS Klondike, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
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The next day we head into Whitehorse again and tour several of the museums in town, a lot of interesting history and artifacts from the gold rush days! We drove to Miles Canyon where we went on a hike, what a beautiful trail!

Miles Canyon, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
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Miles Canyon, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
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Sue & Peanut - Miles Canyon, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
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The next day we head to Dawson City, stopping for lunch at the Moose Creek Lodge, good food and interesting place!

Sue at the Moose Creek Lodge, Yukon Territory
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Mark at the old gas pump with the gas attendent, Moose Creek Lodge, Yukon Territory
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The last 100 miles to Dawson City is rough road and broke a quick link on my camper tie down, really had to watch our speed and look for the orange cones on the side of the highway! We checked into our campground and headed into Dawson City. We walked around town and had dinner and then went to the Can Can show at Diamond Tooth Gertie's Casino, it was definitely entertaining and fun! The next day I was able to get a quick link at the hardware store and we checked out Dawson City a little more and then drove out to Bonanza Creek Road. Sue did a little gold panning along the way to Dredge No 4, Claim 33 and Discovery Claim, it was interesting to see where the largest gold strike took place!

Truck camper at Diamond Tooth Gertie's Casino, Dawson City, Yukon Territory
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The next day we head out early to take the ferry across the Yukon River, we drive right up and cross in about 10 minutes. Now we are on the "Top of the World Highway", headed to the Canada to USA border crossing station. Although it is a gravel highway it is smooth and very scenic! We get to the border crossing early and only wait about 15 minutes until they open.


Lining up for the ferry, Dawson City, Yukon Territory
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Lining up for the ferry, Dawson City, Yukon Territory
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Across the Yukon River, Yukon Territory
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"Top of the World Highway", Yukon Territory
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Sue & Peanut - "Top of the World Highway" sign, Yukon Territory
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Canada to USA border crossing, Power Creek, Alaska, June 18
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I am going to end Part 1 here, this has been very painful putting a Trip Report together on this site, it has taken me 3 - 4 times the amount of work it should have taken with deleting my drafts or not saving them happening at least a dozen times. Finally, with the suggestions of others I can post this part 1 of our trip to Alaska, thank you! I was hoping to do this report in 3 parts but it is looking like probably 6 parts now.


2017 RAM 3500 Laramie Megacab, DRW, 4X4, Cummins w/ Aisin transmission
2016 Arctic Fox 811
1997 Jeep TJ
Truck Camper Adventure with Mark Larson
www.MarkLarsonPhotography.com
www.flickr.com/photos/gpnusa
www.flickr.com/photos/gpnaz
www.flickr.com/photos/his_cross


work2much

Jackson Ca

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Posted: 09/12/17 08:33pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great pictures!

We were in Alaska this summer as well and visited many of the exact places. Looks like you guys timed the sunny skies a bit better than we did.


2017 Ram 3500 Laramie DRW Crew 4x4 Aisin 4:10 Air ride.
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GpnAZ

Phoenix

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Posted: 09/12/17 08:40pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

work2much wrote:

Great pictures!

We were in Alaska this summer as well and visited many of the exact places. Looks like you guys timed the sunny skies a bit better than we did.


Yeah, I remember talking to you a couple times on the forum and you were always about a week ahead of us.

SidecarFlip

Deerfield, Michigan

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Posted: 09/12/17 08:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Beautiful pictures.


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mike/kellie

northern calif.

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Posted: 09/12/17 10:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you for putting this together. This type of trip is in our future and the photography is amazing. I'll post an occasional comment and even more rare a photo. Any trip report is always appreciated by me and I'm sure others. I just asked a neighbor this weekend to help me get the basics of photography. His first comment was if I followed anybody on twitter or other social network. Now I will! Thanks Mark!


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Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli

Seattle

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Posted: 09/13/17 12:16am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice adventure and pictures.


Camper Jeff and Kelli's Blog!

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daily double

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Posted: 09/13/17 05:14am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Looking forward to the rest of the trip!!!!

Bubtoofat

SE Michigan

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Posted: 09/13/17 05:58am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Excellent photography. Looking forward to the next batch.

Mike


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"No matter where I am, I can't help feeling I'm just a day away from where I want to be."
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old idaho guy

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Posted: 09/13/17 06:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great photos. We made the same trip this year. A trip of a lifetime!

zb39

slippery rock

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Posted: 09/13/17 07:20am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Your pics are stunning, VERY beautiful. Thank you for the TR. It brings back memories of our trip in 03.
I want to go back so bad...............


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49 states, 41 National Parks, 7 Provinces

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